The Soft Pack fails to pack a full punch at Cargo
It’s unsurprising how far The Soft Pack must have travelled in order to play in such a small, intimate venue as Cargo.
Based in Los Angeles, the band came to a cold London to play in front of a tiny crowd. Apart from a handful of fans at the front, the majority of the audience seemed to be regulars at the bar and live music venue in Shoreditch. It seemed they were so unknown here that no one even realised singer Matt Lamkin had come on stage to do his own mic check.
They opened with They Say and instantly it was evident that their mixed 70s garage and 80s punk sound was much too large for the small room. The building felt like it was shaking under all the bass. It was a poor start, and when the song ended there was only a smattering of applause.
Singer Matt Lamkin seemed uncomfortable on stage – during instrumental parts of songs when he was not wielding his guitar he was swaying awkwardly. When he was singing he stared either away from the crowd or at the same spot of the wall at the back of the room. He never engaged with the audience between songs, apart from a quick muttering of the song name.
Where Lamkin was underwhelming, guitarist Matty McLoughlin stole the show. During songs such as Answer to Yourself and Head on Ice he pulled off impressive guitar solos where you could see the concentration on his face as he got every chord right.
The whole band together sounded at times like what would have happened if Johnny Rotten had fronted The Hives. This was not a good thing; the instruments drowned out Lamkin’s vocals making it hard to hear the lyrics of each song.
However, after a slow start the performance did start to pick up when they brought on their saxophonist for track Bobby Brown. The song itself showed the band’s potential, moving away from the lo-fi punk sound and opting for a more rough soul, jazzy kind of tune that worked very well. In contrast with the reserved Lamkin, the saxophonist was in his element, dancing around at the back when he wasn’t playing.
During the highlight of their set you could see how well-rehearsed this band actually are. They have developed such a strong relationship with each other over the years that they play off each other’s vibes without a second thought. As the song finally came to a finish after an explosion of guitars, drums and saxophone, you saw the best of The Soft Pack.
They just need to get a strong breakthrough hit under their belt before they consider venturing out of Los Angeles again.
You can purchase the band’s newest album Strapped here.
Watch the video for single Answer to Yourself here: